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The diffusion of health technologies: Cultural and biological divergence

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  • Hansen, Casper Worm

Abstract

This paper proposes the hypothesis that genetic distance to the health frontier influences population health outcomes. Evidence from a world sample suggests that genetic distance, interpreted as long-term cultural and biological divergence, is an important factor in understanding health inequalities across countries. Specifically, the paper documents a remarkably robust negative link between genetic distance to the United States and population health—as measured by life expectancy at birth and the adult survival rate—even after accounting for an extensive set of possible confounders, such as GDP per capita and various climatic factors. Consistent with the interpretation that genetic distance is related to population health indirectly through human barriers to the diffusion of modern health technologies, the evidence indicates that the gene gradient emerges at the onset of the international epidemiological transition.

Suggested Citation

  • Hansen, Casper Worm, 2013. "The diffusion of health technologies: Cultural and biological divergence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 21-34.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:64:y:2013:i:c:p:21-34
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2013.08.001
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    Cited by:

    1. Andersen, Thomas Barnebeck & Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Skovsgaard, Christian Volmar & Selaya, Pablo, 2016. "Historical Migration Flows and Global Health Differences," COHERE Working Paper 2016:1, University of Southern Denmark, COHERE - Centre of Health Economics Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Population health; Medical technologies; Barrier effect; Long-term divergence;

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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